The Best of Panama auction concluded last week, and the “a cup of coffee shouldn’t cost $3” crowd may want to stop reading here (or, y’know, stop holding such a narrow view of such a wide-ranging product). The highest selling of the 51 lots went for a staggering $601 per pound, setting a new world record.
A naturally processed Geisha, the 100lb lot came from the Cañas Verdes Farm—part of the famed Hacienda La Esmeralda in Boquete—and scored a whopping 94.115 on the cupping table. The lot was purchased by Jason Kew of Kew Specialty Coffee Co LTD . The $60,100 total price tag is nothing short of impressive.
And though it was the clear winner of the day, the Cañas Verdes natural Geisha was but one of many lots to make waves at the 2017 Best of Panama auction. There were a total of four lots to eclipse the $100/lb mark, including a washed Geisha from Finca Sophia, a farm owned in part by Equator Coffee’s co-founders Helen Russell and Brooke McDonnell, which sold for $254.80/lb. This is the same farm that produced the coffee used in Talya Strader’s third place finish at the 2017 US Barista Championship. This second-highest priced lot, along with the third highest from La Mula, was purchased and split by Japan’s Saza Coffee and Aroma Coffee.
While a majority of the lots up for auction will be finding their way to Asia, Specialty Coffee Association of Panama President Wilford Lamastus notes in a press release that a total of 13 countries from four continents were represented on the winners list:
In total, the 5,950 pounds of coffee sold a whopping $368,771, an average price of $61.98/lb.
It's hard not to be impressed by these numbers (I'm fighting every urge to be Debbie Downer and talk about how little this affects specialty coffee as a whole or how the coffee prices have stagnated and are artificially low, so please bear with me). This auction represents the very tip-top of the coffee pyramid and show the sort of heights coffee prices can reach. They're probably never going to change the minds of the “a cup of coffee shouldn’t cost $3” crowd, but they nonetheless speak to the legitimacy of high-end coffee in terms universally understood: dollars.
A full list of auction lots and sale prices can be found here.
Zac Cadwalader is the news editor at Sprudge Media Network.
*top image via Best of Panama
Update: An earlier version of this feature included a quote attributed to Daniel Peterson of Hacienda Esmeralda, as appears in the English language web version of Panama Today. The Peterson family disputes the accuracy of this quote, and we've removed it at their request. This feature was updated on July 27th, 2017.